Monday, July 28, 2014

Shabbat Hazon - D'varim

Deuteronomy 1:1−3:22

by Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

The book of Devarim consists of three major farewell speeches that Moses makes to the people as they prepare to enter the Land of Canaan and he prepares to die.

Though Moses has known for years that he will not be permitted to enter the land, now that they are on the other side of the Jordan River he acts in a very human way. As any of us might do, Moses pleads with God to allow him to enter the land. God's response is succinct and final -- rav lakh -- often translated as "this is enough." In other words, God tells Moses that it's no use complaining or trying to persuade God to change the decree. Moses will not enter the land. Yet, the exact meaning of "rav lakh" is unclear and can be translated in numerous ways. It literally means "this is much for you." In addition to understanding it as "enough!" it can also be translated, as Rabbi Analia Bortz does in her commentary in "The Women's Torah Commentary," as "this is much for you" or "you have achieved much." Though still implying that God's decision will not change, God is also trying to remind Moses that he has accomplished much during the 40 years of wandering.

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